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Should You Leave Alexa on All the Time?


Alexa is the handy voice-enabled personal assistant that can control various items around your home as well as answering your burning questions.

So, whether you want to set a reminder for an important appointment or get the answer to a complicated mathematical equation, Alexa is the AI-powered assistant that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.

A common question people often have, though, is whether you should leave Alexa on all the time, and that’s what we’ll be discussing in this article.

To make the most of Alexa’s helpful features, we recommend keeping Alexa devices switched on (including both overnight and during extended time away). These devices enter sleep mode while not in use to minimize energy consumption, and this also prevents them from recording everything you say.

Read on to find out more about why you should leave Alexa on all the time, how to turn Alexa off should you ever need to, and what you should do with your Echo device when you go away on vacation.

Should Alexa Be Switched off at Night?

When not in use, your Alexa device will automatically go into sleep mode until you summon the personal assistant using your chosen wake word.

There is no need to switch Alexa off at night; the smart speaker will use minimal amounts of electricity, so you don’t need to worry at all about your bills shooting up.

Many people use their Echo device as an alarm to wake them up every morning, and if you were to turn it off at night, you wouldn’t be able to utilise this handy feature.

If you’re worried about being woken up by notifications, updates or drop-in calls during the night, you can set up a ‘‘Do Not Disturb’ schedule via the Alexa app. During your allotted period for not being disturbed, you will still be able to summon Alexa, but it will block any incoming notifications from disturbing your slumber, for example.

There is also the option to press the microphone button to turn off the microphone at night rather than turning the device off completely.

With no active microphone, Alexa won’t be able to hear what you say, so if you wake up in the middle of the night and suddenly remember you need to pick up dishwasher capsules, you won’t be able to ask Alexa to add them to your shopping list.

Missing Out on Alexa’s Smart Home Capabilities

Some people also like to utilise Alexa’s smart home features, allowing you to control devices such as lights, thermostats, and televisions without getting up from your seat.

If you wanted to set up Alexa’s smart home features, but you turn your Echo device off at night, you will lose out on the privilege of being able to turn off the lights from the comfort of your bed, which to us sounds like too much of a perk to miss out on!


Should I Turn Off Alexa When I Go Away?

If you go away on holiday for a few days or even a couple of weeks, you may be wondering what you should do with your Alexa device.

Should you wish to, you could unplug your Echo speaker altogether and plug it back in when you return home.

Unplugging it won’t damage the device, and Alexa will safely reboot all your settings and preferences as soon as you turn it on again.

On the other hand, you could keep it switched on and take advantage of some handy features whilst you’re out of the house.

Linking Alexa to ‘smart’ home features such as lights and lamps is an excellent way to make it appear as you’re home when you’re not and deter unwanted visitors. Using the Alexa app or by asking your Echo device, you can arrange for certain lights with smart plugs or smart bulbs to turn on and off between specific times, giving the illusion someone is still at home.

should you leave alexa on all the time article image - an image showing the alexa app icon on a smartphone

©opturadesign/123RF.COM

If you’re worried about someone breaking in when you’re away and taking your Echo devices, you can also set up voice recognition or a password so they won’t be able to hack into your Amazon account.

You can even turn your Alexa into a home security system by enabling the Alexa Guard feature. This fantastic free tool utilises the Echo’s microphone on all the devices in the house to listen out for activity, such as a window or door breaking. If anything is detected, it will automatically send an alert to your phone to warn you of any suspicious activity in your home whilst you’re away.


Should I Keep Alexa Turned on All the Time?

So, we’ve recommended that you don’t switch off your Alexa device at night or when you go away for an extended period. So, does that mean that you should leave your Alexa-enabled device on all the time?

In our opinion, yes.

To make the most of Alexa’s on-demand features, we’d recommend keeping your device plugged in and turned on the whole time. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on the convenience of having a personal assistant that’s available 24/7.

When switched off, you’ll also miss out on being able to use your Alexa-enabled device as a home security system by using the device’s microphone to listen out for suspicious activity, a feature that’s great for peace of mind.

Plus, if you’re worried about energy consumption, your Alexa-enabled device will enter sleep mode (see below) while not in use to minimize energy usage.


Does Alexa Turn Off After a While?

Amazon Echo devices will never turn themselves off unless you physically unplug them. Instead, when not in use, they will enter sleep mode until you summon it awake again with your chosen wake word.

If you like to listen to music while you fall asleep, it is possible to set a sleep timer so it will automatically stop playing at a specific time, rather than waking you up in the middle of the night to a random song playing.

The sleep timer works for music, podcasts, audiobook, radio or any other sound you have playing. To enable it, say, ‘Alexa, set up a sleep timer for 30 minutes’, and once 30 minutes have passed, the device will stop playing and enter sleep mode again.

Another reason Alexa may appear to turn itself off after a while is if you lose your WiFi connection. Alexa devices need both power and WiFi to fully function, so if one of those things drops out, the Echo device will not work.


How to Turn Off Alexa

To turn off your Alexa device completely, you need to unplug it from the wall.

With no power running into the smart speaker, the device will be entirely off, and you won’t be able to make any requests to Alexa.

Does Alexa Have an ‘Off’ Button?

Standard Amazon Echo devices (the ones without screens) have four buttons that you can control as shown below.

For example, you can control the volume using the plus and minus buttons, manually wake the device up using the action button or turn the microphone off using the microphone button.

should you leave alexa on all the time article image - an image showing the buttons on a standard amazon echo device

While there is no standard ‘off’ button that will turn the device off altogether, you can stop Alexa from listening in by pressing the microphone button as and when you need to.

With the microphone turned off, you won’t be able to wake Alexa up using your chosen wake word; however, you will still receive any notifications that come through to your Echo device. Still, you won’t be able to interact with Alexa again until you press the microphone button to enable it again.


How to Wake Up Alexa

While the default wake word for Alexa is simply saying ‘Alexa’, there are three other options of wake words to choose from as shown below.

If you have multiple Alexa devices in your home and it’s getting too confusing when two or more pick up your voice simultaneously, you can set them all to different wake words.

What Are the Four Wake Words for Alexa?

The following words can be used to wake up an Alexa device:

  1. Alexa
  2. Computer
  3. Amazon
  4. Echo

How to Change the Wake Word on an Echo Device

Here’s how to change the wake word on your Echo device:

  1. Open the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet.
  2. Open the menu by tapping the three lines at the top left corner of the screen.
  3. Tap ‘Settings’, then open ‘Device Settings’.
  4. A list of all your connected Echo devices will appear; select the one you wish to update.
  5. Tap ‘Wake Word’.
  6. Select your chosen wake word from the four options in the list.
  7. Tap ‘OK’ on the pop-up window
  8. Try out your new wake word on the correct device to check if it has been updated correctly

In Summary

It is up to you whether you leave your Alexa turned on the entire time.

There is no right or wrong answer.

Leaving the device plugged in 24/7 won’t use up a massive amount of electricity, and it doesn’t mean that Alexa will record everything you say. You see, when they aren’t in use, Echo devices automatically enter sleep mode, only waking up again once they hear your selected wake word.

To make the most of Alexa’s helpful features, we would recommend leaving it on the whole time. That way, you will have your own voice-enabled personal assistant available whenever you need them.

For moments when you don’t want Alexa listening in, rather than turning the device off altogether, simply turn the microphone off so you will still receive any incoming notifications, calls, messages and drop-ins.


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